Sylvester Stallone found himself catapulted to a new tier of fame and acclaim when Rocky became the highest-grossing film of 1976, and walked away with the Academy Award for Best Picture. Since then, no matter what ups, downs, twists and turns Stallone's career has taken, he's always had Rocky's shadow on his heels. Until now, that is.
In a new social media post, Sylvester Stallone seems to be commemorating the opening weekend success of Creed II by officially declaring that the spinoff sequel will be his last time playing Rocky Balboa:
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I am reposting this because there was a technical difficulty. I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years. It’s been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass... and end. I love you Kind and generous people , and The most wonderful thing of all , is that ROCKY will never die because he lives on in you ....
As Stallone says in the video, he never thought there would be more Rocky, until the passionate team behind Creed coaxed him back. He says that Creed II will probably be his "last rodeo," as his (Rocky's) story has been told. He officially passes the mantle off to Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed, seemingly retiring Rocky for good.
That's going to be a very poignant and bittersweet send-off for millions of Rocky fans, but truth be told, Stallone retiring the character probably couldn't come at a better point. No one expected Rocky to be a factor in pop-culture in this day and age, but Stallone's performance in Creed came out of nowhere with the power and weight of real experience and age, showing the former champion growing old, and lonely as time moved on past him. Creed II in many ways brings the story of Rocky full-circle, as Rocky and Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) get the chance to rectify the one big loose end in the series: Apollo Creed losing his bout (and life) to the ruthless Ivan Drago. SPOILERS - In the film's epilogue, Rocky even gets to correct his own personal problems, finally reuniting with his estranged son, Robert (Milo Ventimiglia). As far as Rocky's story goes, there's pretty much just death left - which is probably where the next Creed installment could potentially pick up.
...Then again, Stallone has supposedly left Rocky behind before, with the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. That film saw Rocky provoked into returning into the ring to fight a younger boxing champion. That film also used the theme of age and changing times to bring Rocky's story to a (supposed) close, only to have Rocky rolled out again for Creed. With the level of success the spinoff franchise is having, it's not inconceivable that Stallone could be lured back for another chapter - if that proverbial dump truck full of money is big enough.
Creed II is now in theaters.